Cortex Friday: Delayed

I’m sorry to do this, but this week’s Cortex Friday post is going to be somewhat late. I’ll try to get it posted on Friday night (rather than noon as usual) but it might have to go up on Saturday afternoon instead.

I usually write these posts the night before they go up, but a sick kid made that pretty hard to do this week. Plus, adapting the Black Pudding’s bifurication stunt into Cortex Prime rules is proving a lot more difficult than I anticipated.

Thanks for hanging with me, and sorry again for the delay. I’ll try to get the Cortex Prime versions of the Changing Rogue, Elf Monk, Black Pudding (and Gelatinous Cube and Grey Ooze), and Kobold Tribe up as soon as possible.

Cortex Friday: Delayed

Cortex Fridays: Runepriest, Druid, Umber Hulk, and Basilisk

Welcome to the first Cortex Fridays post! Last Saturday I said that I’d start making Cortex Prime versions of the fantasy adventurers and monsters on this blog. I’m still not entirely sure how I’m going to organize things, but for the time being I’m going to try and post two adventurers and two monsters every Friday: one of each will be from an older post, and the other will be from the current week. That’ll allow the Cortex Prime content to eventually catch up with the Fate Accelerated content, at which point each Cortex Friday post will just be that week’s monster and adventurer. So let’s get started!


Dwarven Runepriest

Dwarf_Runepriest

Distinctions:

  • Cautious Dwarven Runepriest
  • By the Will of the Forgelord
  • Solid As Stone

Approaches:

  • Careful d10
  • Clever d6
  • Flashy d8
  • Forceful d8
  • Quick d6
  • Sneaky d4

Roles:

  • Holy One d10
  • Mage d6
  • Scoundrel d4
  • Warrior d8

Note: For both Approaches and Roles, a d10 may be split into either 2d8 or 3d6, and a d8 may be split into 2d6.

Specialties:

  • Smithing (Warrior) d6
  • Stonecraft (Mage) d6

Note: Specialties may only be included in a dice pool when the listed Role die is also included, unless the player spends a plot point.

Signature Assets:

  • Dwarven-forged Heavy Plate Armor d8
  • Rune-scribed Heavy Warhammer d6

Stunts:

  • Defensive Fighter: Because I fight defensively, if I include Careful in my dice pool and achieve a heroic success when defending against a physical attack, I may turn my effect die into a Wide Open complication attached to my opponent.
  • Unrelenting: Because I am relentless in my advance, whenever a trap or
    opponent attempts to create a complication hindering my mobility, such as
    Slowed or Net Trap, I may step up my Forceful die when opposing.
  • Wards and Sigils: Because I can scribe runes of protection, I may double my Careful die whenever I create or step up assets on myself or my companions representing magical defense or shielding.

Vigilant Minotaur Druid

Minotaur_Druid

Distinctions:

  • I Must Halt Civilization’s Advance
  • Hurloon Tribe Stone-Caller
  • Ridiculously Bull-Headed

Approaches:

  • Careful d10
  • Clever d8
  • Flashy d6
  • Forceful d8
  • Quick d6
  • Sneaky d4

Roles:

  • Holy One d10
  • Mage d6
  • Scoundrel d4
  • Warrior d8

Note: For both Approaches and Roles, a d10 may be split into either 2d8 or 3d6, and a d8 may be split into 2d6.

Specialties:

  • Astrology (Holy One) d6
  • Earth Magic (Holy One) d6
  • Stonecraft (Mage) d6

Note: Specialties may only be included in a dice pool when the listed Role die is also included, unless the player spends a plot point.

Signature Assets:

  • Ironbark Quarterstaff d6
  • Ironbark Buckler d6

Stunts:

  • Burden of Stone: Because my counterstrikes magically weigh down my opponents, whenever I succeed in defending against a physical attack and included Careful in my dice pool, I may convert my opponent’s effect die into a Weighed Down stunt asset.
  • Hymns of the Earth: Because I can raise spires of rock from the ground with my song, I add a d6 and step up my effect die by +1 when including Clever in my dice pool to create or step up assets related to rough, impassible or hazardous rocky terrain in my or an adjacent zone.
  • Thunderhoof Charge: Because I hit with the strength of an avalanche after building up momentum, I may double my Forceful die to attack with my horns as long as I moved at least one zone before attacking.

OK. I hadn’t really meant to put notes on these entries, as four characters makes the post pretty long already. But I feel the need to clarify that I’m still feeling things out with the Cortex Prime versions of the monsters. Major NPCs are meant to be built with the same pieces as PCs (distinctions, attributes, skills, and signature assets/specialties if you’re using the “standard” Cortex Prime pieces). But I’m using approaches and roles for the heroes, rather than attributes and skills. It makes sense for the monsters to have approaches, but unless they’re intelligent, the holy one / mage / scoundrel / warrior roles that PCs have don’t really fit.

But as major NPCs should have similar number of “dice buckets” to the PCs,  I suppose I could use behaviors instead of roles. Something like brute / controller / lurker / reviver, to help reinforce how the monster acts. Does it wade heedlessly into battle? That’s brute. Does it toss out effects that make things more difficult for the heroes to deal with? Controller. Hang back and harry the PCs directly but run from a fair fight? Lurker. Reinforce its monstrous allies rather than directly engaging the heroes? Reviver. (MMOs aren’t really to my tastes, but you can see I’m borrowing some of their terminology here.) I think that sounds pretty good, so let’s go with that for now.


Umber Hulk (Major NPC):

Umber_Hulk

Distinctions:

  • Large Gorilla-Beetle Hybrid
  • I Must Gorge on Humanoid Meat
  • Subterranean Juggernaut

Approaches:

  • Careful d4
  • Clever d6
  • Flashy d4
  • Forceful d12
  • Quick d8
  • Sneaky d8

Roles:

  • Brute d10
  • Controller d8
  • Lurker d4
  • Reviver d6

Specialties:

  • Burrowing (Forceful) d6

Signature Assets:

  • Steel-Hard Chitin Plates d8
  • Super Sensitive Antenna d8

Stunts:

  • UMBER HULK SMASH!: Because I am an insectile engine of destruction, I may double my Forceful die when attempting to overcome physical obstacles that can be smashed through.
  • Sharp Digging Claws: Because I have claws sharp enough to burrow through solid stone, I add a d6 to my pool and step back the highest die in my pool by one when making an attack. If the attack is successful, I step up my effect die by one.
  • Mind Scrambler: Because I have a hypnotic gaze, I may double my Sneaky die whenever I create or step up a complication representing my mind scrambling effects, such as Confused, Dazed, or Hypnotized.

Scale:

The Umber Hulk is a Large creature (weight 2). It adds a d8 scale die to its dice pool and keeps a third die in its total when acting against opponents that weigh less than it does. Two Medium creatures (each weight 1) or four Small creatures (each weight 1/2) must engage the Umber Hulk at once to negate the scale die bonus.


Stone-Eyed Basilisk (Major NPC):

Basilisk

Distinctions:

  • Medium Magical Lizard
  • I Must Add To My Den’s Statuary
  • Incredibly Slow Metabolism

Approaches:

  • Careful d8
  • Clever d6
  • Flashy d6
  • Forceful d10
  • Quick d4
  • Sneaky d8

Roles:

  • Brute d4
  • Controller d6
  • Lurker d8
  • Reviver d4

Specialties:

  • Lying in Wait (Sneaky) d6
  • Extremely Robust Digestive System (Forceful) d6

Stunts:

  • Cunning Ambush Predator: Because I attack from ambush, whenever I include both my Sneaky die and an asset related to concealment, such as Buried, Disguised, or Hidden in my dice pool on an attack, I keep a third die for my total.
  • Paralyzing Gaze: Because I can turn creatures to stone by locking eyes with them, I can include my Forceful die in a roll to create a Slowly Petrifying complication on an opponent at any distance, as long as we can both see each other. In addition to creating the complication, a success begins the Stone Curse effect for that character (see below).

The Stone Curse

At the beginning of the basilisk’s turn, each Slowly Petrifying complication automatically steps up. If it would step up past a d12, the character is taken out of the scene and the complication becomes Totally Petrified d12.


The character and monster illustration are the free paper mini made by Printable Heroes. The free versions are backless, but if you support the Patreon at just $1 a month you get minis with backs. For $2 a month you get access to “reskins”, and for $3 a month you get multiple color options. That’s a fantastic deal.

Cortex Fridays: Runepriest, Druid, Umber Hulk, and Basilisk

Wednesday Warriors: Halfling Thief

Just like the “intelligence-based” wizard from last week, the halfling thief is such a classic fantasy RPG character type I had to make one. (Thank you Bilbo Baggins.) But the character took longer to write up than some of the others I’ve done so far. I’ve mentioned before that I try to spread a character’s stunts around, both in regards to the action and and the approach the stunt modifies. But some fantasy character types seem very focused on a fairly narrow area of expertise. The fighter is one, and the thief is another.

It would have been very easy to make Sneaky the thief’s lead approach. Because of how Fate Accelerated approaches work, creeping along in the shadows, backstabbing an unaware target, picking pockets, and even picking locks could be handled with the Sneaky approach. Stunts that grant bonuses to these “thief-y” actions would also have been really appropriate. But that also would have been rather boring.

One result of Fate Accelerated‘s approaches caring about how a character does something instead of what they are doing, is that the same approach can cover many different situations. This can lead to players “spamming an approach” – meaning the player intentionally tries to finagle things so they get to roll with their character’s highest approach as often as possible. Players and GMs are meant to use the approach that makes the most sense based on the fictional situation at hand, but there is nothing forcing the player to use different approaches.

Having stunts that use different approaches is a way to encourage players to branch out and use more than a one approach all the time. (Not that I necessarily expect people to do that.) But much like the fighter, making stunts that were tied to different approaches and actions yet still evoked the flavor of a fantasy thief was rather hard to do. I didn’t really need a stunt to emulate lock picking, as the equipment aspect of Expertly Crafted Set Of Thieves Tools could cover that. Instead I went with a stunt that grants a bonus when overcoming physical barriers. I always try to have a stunt that reinforces the adjective in the character’s high concept, and moving around during a fight seemed to fit nicely here. Moving into an adjacent zone for free doesn’t feel like it equals two shifts on the ladder (which is generally what a stunt’s effect is worth) so it works on success with style for two actions; attack and defense. Lastly, because the character is a thief and a halfling, I went with a stunt that granted a bonus to avoid notice.

As I’m using the Weight rules from War of Ashes: Fate of Agaptus for the fantasy monsters I’ve made, I could have given the character a Weight 0.5 (Small). But that would have meant any medium-sized opponent got to change one of their dice to a “+” when opposing the character. That doesn’t feel very heroic. Plus, the aspect Nimble Halfling Thief can be compelled when the “halfling” part would cause interesting problems because of the character’s size. It could also be invoked by an opponent for the same reason. That seems more fair, as it will only come up at interesting times, and the player gets a Fate point for having some trouble thrown at them.


Halfling Thief

High Concept: Nimble Halfling Thief
Motivation: I Must Steal A Legendary Treasure
Aspect: Raised On The Deck Of A Pirate Galley
Aspect: More Luck Than I Know What To Do With
Aspect: Expertly Crafted Set Of Thieves Tools

Approaches:

  • Careful: Average (+1)
  • Clever: Fair (+2)
  • Flashy: Average (+1)
  • Forceful: Mediocre (+0)
  • Quick: Good (+3)
  • Sneaky: Fair (+2)

Stunts:

  • Acrobatic Fighter: Because I constantly move during a fight, whenever I Quickly attack or defend and succeed with style, I may immediately move one zone instead of gaining a boost.
  • Escape Artist: Because I can always find a way out, I get +2 to Cleverly overcome obstacles and aspects representing physical bonds or impediments to escape, such as Behind Bars, Tied Up, or Superior Locks.
  • Low Profile: Because I am small and unassuming, I get +2 to Sneakily create an advantage such as Beneath Notice, Inconspicuous, or Totally Not Important, representing people overlooking, ignoring, or not paying attention to me due to my size.

Stress: ▢ ▢ ▢
Consequences:

  • Mild (2):
  • Moderate (4):
  • Severe (6):

You can download the Nimble Halfling Thief as an A4-sized PDF or a letter-sized PDF.

Nimble_Halfling_Thief_A4

The character illustration is the free paper mini made by Printable Heroes. The free versions are backless, but if you support the Patreon at just $1 a month you get minis with backs. For $2 a month you get access to “reskins”, and for $3 a month you get multiple color options. That’s a fantastic deal.

Wednesday Warriors: Halfling Thief